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establish them as fixed principles; that prince did not neglect to increase the wealth of his grandfather Ivan. The people had given to Ivan the surname of The Purse; as much, perhaps, with allusion to his treasures, as to the purse, filled with alms for the poor, which is said to have been always carried before him. At a later period, the constantly progressive riches of the grand princes of Moscow enabled them to enfeoff directly from the crown lands three hundred thousand boyar followers; and next, to keep up a body of regular troops, sufficiently strong to reduce their enemies and their subjects.2 1
This system of concentration of power which Ivan Kalita commenced, by means of his wealth, by the union of the sceptre with the tiara, and by restoring the direct order of succession; his horrible but skilful macchiavellism against the princes holding appanages; finally, the fifty years' repose which, thanks to his policy, and to their dissensions, the Tatars permitted Russia to enjoy; these are the circumstances which entitle Ivan to be considered as standing next after Alexander Nevski among the most remarkable grand princes of the third period. It was he who had the sagacity on this stubborn soil to open and to trace so deeply the path which led to monarchical unity, and to point out its direction so clearly to his successors that they had nothing to do but to persevere in it, as the only safe road which it was then possible for Russia to follow.
This concentration of power brought about great changes from 1320 to 1329; as, at that epoch, all the Russian princes in concert solicited from the horde the recall of the Tatar governors. It was then that, more firmly fixed, the throne of the grand princes became the rallying point of the Russians: along with the consciousness of their strength, it inspired them with a public spirit, which emboldened them. This good understanding was, in reality, an effect of the ascendency which a direct and sustained succession, in a single branch of the Ruriks, had already given to it over all the others.
The Principle of Direct Succession
In fact, sometimes natural justice, sometimes oriental negligence and cupidity, often the fear of being disobeyed, and lastly, and especially, the power and riches of the princes of Moscow-whose presents always surpassed those of the other princes - all these motives had induced the khans to allow the succession to the grand principality to descend regularly from father to son in the branch of Moscow.3 This natural order of succession Dmitri Donskoi, in 1359, established by a treaty, in which his kinsmen con
'See the treaty of Dmitri Donskoi with Vladimir his uncle, who promised to pay to him the tribute of his appanage, which bore the name of the khan's tribute; and the second treaty with the same Vladimir, by which the latter prince engaged that his boyars should pay to Dmitri the same tax which the grand prince might think proper to impose on his own boyars.
It was thus that, in France, in 1445, Charles VII took advantage of the exactions of the English, and of the terror which they inspired, to render perpetual the temporary taxes, and to keep up a permanent corps of twenty-five thousand men.
Usbek, it is true, with macchiavellian policy, designated all the children of Ivan I as his successors; but, in 1340, he allowed Simeon, the oldest and ablest of them, to make himself sole master of the throne. Ianisbek Khan nominated Ivan II, the brother of Simeon, after his death and that of his children, to the exclusion of a prince of the branch of Tver or Nevski. A prince Dmitri, of the Nevski branch, who had been made grand prince by a whim of Naurus Khan, was deposed in 1362 by Murat Khan, who chose Dmitri Donskoi, grandson of Ivan I, and son of Ivan II. Taktamuisch also gave the throne to Vasili II, the eldest son of Donskoi (1389). Lastly, Ulu-Mahomet nominated Vasili III, son of Vasili II, and father of the great Ivan III, whom this long succession rendered so powerful that he completely crushed the horde.
sented to renounce the mode of succession from brother to brother. It was the most remarkable among them, Vladimir the Brave, who was the first to sign this act. In several other conventions, Vladimir acknowledged himself the vassal and lieutenant, not merely of Dmitri, but also of Vasili his son, and even of the son of Vasili, when he was only five years of age. This example, set by a prince who, of all the possessors of appanages, was the most renowned for his prudence and his valour, was followed by the others. Thus, like the Capets, kings of France, did Ivan I, and particularly Dmitri Donskoi, begin the monarchy by restoring the direct succession, in causing, while they lived, their eldest sons to be recognised as their successors. Afterwards we see Vasili, son of Dmitri, persevering in this practice, and Vasili the Blind, his grandson, raising up his tottering throne, and preparing the autocracy of the fourth Russian period, by associating with himself his next heir, the great Ivan III.
It is easy to conceive the infallible effect of this order of succession, and with what promptitude it must necessarily have extended and consolidated the power of the grand princes. In fact, the ideas of the father being transmitted to the son by education, their policy was more consistently followed up, and their ambition had a more direct object. The nobles could not fail to attach themselves more devotedly to a prince whose son and heir, growing up amongst them, would know only them, and would recompense their services in the persons of their children; for the necessary consequence of the succession of power in the same branch, was the succession of favours and dignities in the same families.
Even before Dmitri had established the principle, the boyars saw the advantages which this order of succession held out to them. Here, as elsewhere, the fact preceded the law. This was the reason of their restoring the direct line in the grandson of Ivan Kalita; it was they who made him grand prince at the age of twelve years, and who subjected the other princes to him. In like manner, about 1430, they maintained this order of succession in Vasili the Blind. Contemporary annalists declare that these ancient boyars of the grand principality detested the descent from brother to brother; for, in that system, each prince of the lateral branch arrived from his appanage with other boyars, whom he always preferred, and whom he could not satisfy and establish but at the expense of the old. On the other hand, the most important and transmissible places, the most valuable favours, an hereditary and more certain protection, and greater hopes, attracted a military nobility around the grand princes. In a very short time, their elevation to the level of the humbled petty princes flattered their vanity, and completed their junction with the principal authority. This circumstance explains the last words of Dmitri Donskoi to his boyars, when he recommended his son to their protection. "Under my reign," said he, "you were not boyars, but really Russian princes." In fact (to cite only some examples), we see that his armies were as often commanded by boyars as by princes, and that, from this epoch, it was no longer a prince of the blood, but a boyar of the grand prince, who was his lieutenant at Novgorod. Nay, more, when the succession from father to son was once established, there were, at the very beginning, two minorities (those of Dmitri, and of Vasili, his grandson), during which the boyars composed the council of regency, governed the state, and were the equals, and even the superiors, of the princes who held appanages. This will explain why, in 1392, the boyars of Boris, the last prince of Suzdal, gave up him and his appanage to Vasili Dmitrievitch of Moscow. The motive is to be found only in their
[1366 A.D.] interest; as the grand prince of Moscow entrusted them with the government of the appanages, and thus substituted the nobles in the place of the princes.
A very remarkable circumstance, with respect to Dmitri Donskoi, is, on the one hand, the energy with which he subdued those princes, and, on the other, his circumspect treatment of his boyars. According to Karamsin, it is more especially to their pride and jealousy of the tyssiatchsky of Moscow (the boyar of the city, or of the commune, a sort of civil and military tribune, elected by the people), that we are to attribute the abolition of that office by Donskoi. During the preceding reign, another tyssiatchsky of Moscow, who claimed precedence of even the boyars of the grand prince, had been murdered by them.
When this hereditary protection afforded by the grand princes of the
Moscow branch was once fairly established, the nobles of each appanage, who constituted its army, had thenceforth an asylum, and, as it were, a tribunal for redress, to which they could appeal whenever they were dissatisfied with their prince. It was this which made Tver fall before Ivan Kalita; for the sovereign prince of that first and last rival of Moscow having preferred to his boyars the people of Pskov, who had defended him, the former withdrew to Moscow.
The power of Ivan Kalita being once raised by the Tatars' aid, and by the re-establishment of the direct line of succession, and thoroughly developed by his son and grandson, Simeon the Proud and Dmitri Donskoi, it followed, as a natural consequence, that he who was most able to reward and to punish drew around him, and retained, the whole of the nobles. These constituted the sole strength of the appanaged princes; their defection, therefore, completed the subjugation of the princes. Dmitri Donskoi was, therefore, in reality sovereign, as is proved by his treaties with the princes who held appanages, all of whom he reduced to be his vassals. And, accordingly, notwithstanding the appanages which he gave to his sons, and the dissensions which arose out of that error - an error as yet, perhaps, unavoidable the attachment of the nobles, for which we have just assigned a reason, always replaced the legitimate heir on the throne.
Already, so early as about 1366, the Russian princes could no longer venture to contend against their lord paramount by any other means than by denunciations to the horde; but to what khan could they be addressed? Discord had created several: what result was to be hoped from them? Divided among themselves, the Tatar armies had ceased to be an available force. The journeys to the Golden Horde, which had originally contributed to keep the Russian princes in awe, now served to afford them an insight into the weakness of their enemies. The grand princes returned from the horde with the confidence that they might usurp with impunity; and their competitors
with envoys and letters, which even they themselves well knew would be of no avail. It was, then, obvious in Russia, that the only protecting power was at Moscow: to have recourse to its support was a matter of necessity. The petty princes could obtain it only by the sacrifice of their independence; and thus all of them became vassals to the grand prince Dmitri.
Never did a great man arise more opportunely than this Dmitri. It was a propitious circumstance, that the dissensions of the Tatars gave them full occupation during the eighteen years subsequent to the first three of his reign: this, in the first place, allowed him time to extinguish the devastating fury of Olgerd the Lithuanian, son of Gedimin, father of Iagello, and conqueror of all Lithuania, Volhinia, Smolensk, Kiev, and even of Taurida; secondly, to unite several principalities with his throne; and lastly, to compel the other princes, and even the prince of Tver, to acknowledge his paramount authority.
The contest with the latter was terrible: four times did Dmitri overcome Michael, and four times did the prince of Tver, aided by his son-in-law, the great Olgerd, prince of Lithuania, rise again victorious. In this obstinate conflict, Moscow itself was twice besieged, and must have fallen, had it not been for its stone walls, the recent work of the first regency of the Muscovite boyars. But, at length, Olgerd died; and Dmitri, who, but three years before, could appear only on his knees at the horde, now dared to refuse the khan his tribute, and to put to death the insolent ambassador who had been sent to claim it.
We have seen that, fifty years earlier, a similar instance of temerity caused the branch of Tver to fall beneath that of Moscow; but times were changed. The triple alliance of the primate, the boyars, and the grand prince, had now restored to the Russians a confidence in their own strength: they had acquired boldness from a conviction of the power of their grand prince, and from the dissensions of the Tatars. Some bands of the latter, wandering in Muscovy in search of plunder, were defeated; at last the Tatars have fled before the Russians! they are become their slaves, the delusion of their invincibility is no more!
The burst of fury which the khan exhibited on learning the murder of his representative, accordingly served as a signal for the confederation of all the Russian princes against the prince of Tver. He was compelled to submit to the grand prince, and to join with him against the horde."
The Battle of the Don or Kulikovo (1380 A.D.)
Russia now began to feel that there were three things which were indispensably necessary to her; the establishment of the direct succession, the concentration of the supreme power, and the union of all parties against the Tatars. The movement in this direction was taken very opportunely; for it happened simultaneously that the Mongolian chief, Mamai, was also disembarrassed of his civil wars (1380), and he hastened with all his forces into Russia to re-establish his slighted authority; but he found the grand prince Dmitri confronting him on the Don, at the head of the combined Russian princes and an army of two hundred thousand men. Dmitri put it to the choice of his troops whether they would go to encounter the foe, who were encamped at no great distance on the opposite shore of the river, or remain on this side and wait the attack? With one voice they declared for going
'From 1362 to 1380.
[ 150,000 in Soloviov and Rambaud.]
[1380 A.D.] over to the assault. The grand prince immediately transported his battalions across the river, and then turned the vessels adrift, in order to cut off all hopes of escaping by retreat, and inspire his men with a more desperate valour against an enemy who was three times stronger in numbers. The fight began. The Russians defended themselves valiantly against the furious attacks of the Tatars; the hosts of combatants pressed in such numbers to the field of battle, that multitudes of them were trampled under foot by the tumult of men and horses. The Tatars, continually relieved by fresh bodies of soldiers as any part was fatigued by the conflict, seemed at length to have victory on their side. Nothing but the impossibility of getting over the river, and the firm persuasion that death would directly transport them from the hands of the infidel enemy into the mansions of bliss, restrained the Russians from a general flight. But all at once, at the very moment when everything seemed to be lost, a detachment of the grand prince's army, which he had stationed as a reserve, and which till now had remained inactive and unobserved, came up in full force, fell upon the rear of the Tatars, and threw them into such amazement and terror that they fled, and left the Russians masters of the field. This momentous victory, however, cost them dear; thousands lay dead upon the ground, and the whole army was occupied eight days in burying the bodies of the dead Russians: those of the Tatars were left uninterred upon the ground. It was in harmony of this achievement that Dmitri received his honourable surname of Donskoi. 9
Significance of Battle of Kulikovo
The chronicles say that such a battle as that of Kulikovo had never before been known in Russia; even Europe had not seen the like of it for a long time. Such bloody conflicts had taken place in the western half of Europe at the beginning of the so-called Middle Ages, at the time of the great migration of nations, in those terrible collisions between European and Asiatic armies; such was the battle of Châlons-sur-Marne, when the Roman general saved western Europe from the Huns; such too was the battle of Tours, where the Frankish leader saved western Europe from the Arabs (Saracens). Western Europe was saved from the Asiatics, but her eastern half remained long open to their attacks. Here, about the middle of the ninth century, was formed an empire which should have served Europe as a bulwark against Asia; in the thirteenth century this bulwark was seemingly destroyed, but the foundations of the European empire were saved in the distant northwest; thanks to the preservation of these foundations, in a hundred and fifty years the empire succeeded in becoming unified, consolidated - and the victory of Kulikovo served as a proof of its strength. It was an omen of the triumph of Europe over Asia, and has exactly the same signification in the history of eastern Europe as the victories of Châlons and Tours have in that of western Europe. It also bears a like character with them that of a terrible, bloody slaughter, a desperate struggle between Europe and Asia, which was to decide the great question in the history of humanity: which of these two parts of the world was to triumph over the other.
But the victory of Kulikovo was one of those victories which closely border upon grievous defeats. When, says the tradition, the grand prince ordered a count to be made of those who were left alive after the battle, the boyar Michael Aleksandrovitch reported to him that there remained in all forty thousand men, while more than four hundred thousand had been in action. And although the historian is not obliged to accept the latter state